Thursday, October 14, 2010
Chisel - Early Recordings 1991-1994
Chisel were one of my favorite bands of the '90s. As much as i love the band's 2 full lengths (8am All Day and Set You Free), and the Nothing New collection, these early songs were always my favorite. I was fortunate enough to see Chisel once sometime in the early '90s at ABC No Rio. They were amazing, and everything they've ever recorded was nothing short of excellent.
This is a collection of the band's earliest recordings, most of which was recorded in 1991. I restored all the tracks to the best of my ability. I'm really happy with this one.
Chisel - Early Recordings: 1991-1994
Ted Leo - vocals/guitar
Chris Infante - bass
John Dugan - drums
Starting off the collection is possibly the rarest Chisel recordings, 5 tracks recorded at WFMU in July of 1991. I'm not sure if this is the full set, but these were all the songs on the tape i recently acquired (thanks Matt!!). After listening to this tape for the past 2 weeks, this has become possibly my favorite Chisel stuff. The live studio version of Spike (later renamed Swamp Fox/Spike) is a killer. Following are perfectly executed renditions of 4 of the band's earliest songs, ending with a track i'm not familiar with which i titled "unknown". Great sound quality, considering it was ripped from a 20 year old cassette.
Next up are 6 tracks from the Stanford Hall Demos tape. Recorded on February 2, 1991 at, you guessed it, Stanford Hall, at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. The track Elusive Butterfly (originally recorded by Bob Lind in 1966) was labeled (Revenge of) The Bright Elusive Butterfly of Love on the actual cassette. There were 2 versions of this cover on the demo, but i only used the first version (in my opinion the superior version), and i also left out the closing track, a funky, and quite sucky instrumental entitled Pornomental. Thanks to the amazing South Bend Power Nineties blog for this demo. Check this blog out for other Chisel rarities, as well as tons of other great bands from the South Bend scene, which seemed to be an like an explosion of inspiration during the '90s. Hopefully the blog is OK with me abducting these tracks, and are happy with the restoration.
Next up is my all-time favorite (yet sadly least-known) Chisel song, Sloth. This track was recorded in March on '91 at Inner Ear Studios in Washington, DC (possibly during the Swamp Fox sessions?), and released in 1992 on the Superpowers compilation cassette by Troubleman Unlimited. Sloth, with it's amazing bass line by Infante, was exclusive to the Superpowers tape, as were many of the songs of the comp. The tape came with issue #4 of Wanna Communicate fanzine. The first 300 were hand-dubbed with tapes stolen from ShopRite, then 700 professionally duplicated with the profits. This is an absolutely incredible comp, with more great bands than i can name. Standouts for me, besides Chisel, were Greyhouse, Heroin, Shudder to Think (band's best recordings), Assuck, Sticks & Stones, Merel... fuck, the whole thing is fantastic.
Now we come to the band's first record. Known as the "Swamp Fox ep", the self-titled 7" was recorded at Inner Ear Studios on March 14, 1991 and released on Assembly Records in September of the same year. Thanks to my good friend Mark for an excellent job ripping my vinyl to mp3. There's a bit of surface noise on the b-side (Listen), but not anything major, and this is certainly the best sounding rip i've heard of this track so far. Anyway, great first record.
Ted Leo - vocals/guitar
Chris Norborg - bass
John Dugan - drums
The split 7" with Brian, Colin and Vince was recorded in May of 1993 at Miami Street Studio and released on Sudden Shame Records (Colin of BCV's label) in August on 1993. On this slab, Chisel covered Brian, Colin and Vince's classic Spectacles, and BCV covered Chisel's One in Ten. Chisel's version of Spectacles was played during the closing credits of the Songs for Cassavetes documentary.
Next we have the Sunburn 7" released on Gern Blandsten Records in August of 1994. Chisel are on the top of their game here, delivering three of their best. Little Gidding (my personal favorite of the 3) was recorded in October of '93 and mixed in February of '94 at WGNS Studios. 3 O'Clock High was recorded in March of '93 at Idful Music Corp, Chicago, IL. Sunburn was recorded in June of '93 at Idful Music Corp. The Sunburn 7" was later released as bonus tracks on the CD version of the Nothing New collection, put out on Gern Blandsten in 1995.
Closing the collection is an unreleased song called My First Resume, recorded live at 242 Main on April 16, 1994. Nice sound quality.
Check out the official Chisel Myspace page here.
For more info on the band, check out the band's Wiki page here.
For those who don't know, Ted Leo is now touring with his old band, the mighty Citizen's Arrest.